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O'HARA: Shelton heading to Detroit with reputation as a run-stuffing DT

Danny Shelton has kept his football journey on track with resolve and determination to move forward through personal tragedy and the ups and downs of life on and off the field.

Shelton, who agreed to terms with the Detroit Lions as a free agent, has built a reputation in five NFL seasons as a 345-pound run-stuffing defensive tackle.

It's a quality the Lions have valued in reshaping their defensive roster in the offseason, and one that Shelton is eager to add to head coach Matt Patricia's defensive system and culture.

"During my journey in football, I always had to face adversity," Shelton said Sunday in a conference-call interview with the Detroit media. "We had some sort of adversity to overcome.

"I think that just kind of stuck with me. Being able to grow and learn from every situation has prepared me and molded me into the type of player I am now.

"I'm willing to play wherever he needs me to play. My main goal is to give it my all and help bring more wins to Detroit."

Shelton has experienced extreme losing and winning.

He spent three seasons with the Cleveland Browns after being drafted 12th overall in 2015 out of the University of Washington. The Browns won four games in three years, with an 0-16 won-loss record in 2017.

He was traded to the Patriots in the 2018 offseason and landed with a team that won Super Bowl LIII in the first season with his new team.

Before Shelton's college career began at the University of Washington, he had to deal with being present when his brother, Shennon, was shot to death in an argument that escalated into a fatal shooting.

One brother, Gaston, was shot in the chest and survived. The gunman's weapon jammed when he tried to fire at Danny, who subdued him.

Danny had already committed to attending Washington when the incident occurred. Understandably he had some emotionally trying times but eventually got through it.

"That probably was one of the biggest impacts," he said. "It was a time when I was young and didn't know if I was going to continue my plan to attend Washington."

Shelton followed through on attending Washington and found the support there and from family and friends to move on from the tragedy of his brother's death.

View photos of defensive tackle Danny Shelton. Photos courtesy Associated Press.

As Shelton progressed through his pro career, the turning point was the trade to New England. Playing in head coach Bill Belichick's system was something Shelton said he appreciated, and something that should carry over to playing for the Lions.

The Patriot Way – and the "Do Your Job" mantra – made a lasting impact.

"The thing that stood out to me the most is, the teamwork aspect of it," Shelton said. "There's something different than other teams I've heard about.

"It's like another level of expectations. Everyone's more focused and accountable, and I think that just ties into everyone's work ethic, and everyone desire -- wanting to win and wanting to be a part of this system."

Shelton, who turns 27 in August, brings durability to the Lions, a precious quality that was lacking in 2019. He missed only five regular-season games in five years.

Shelton's role in his two seasons with the Patriots grew from playing 324 defensive snaps in 2018 to 492 in 2019.

"It took me a little bit to buy in and perform to Bill's standards," Shelton said. "I think it's been an awesome experience for me to kind of learn another system and grow from it."

He also got an inside look at how former Patriots quarterback Tom Brady operates. Everything he'd heard about Brady's competitive nature proved to be true.

"Just witnessing it myself, he's a guy who doesn't back down from a challenge," Shelton said. " "He always wants to compete."

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